It’s no secret that that what you eat and your daily habits and routine are major contributing factors to your health. It also can be one of the hardest things people find to take control over when they are trying to achieve a health or fitness goal.
“I don’t have time, I don’t know how to start, I don’t want to miss out on things, I’m good for a day or two then I eat the entire kitchen” – said every person at some point
It’s not like our environment makes it any easier for us either when we are constantly confronted with products that claim to be ‘fat free’, ‘low carb’, a ‘super food’, ‘full of essential good fats’ and my personal favourite ‘high in protein’ – yeah thanks packaging for drawing me in with your high protein pretty wrapper when you have 60 grams of carbs in you as well so I have just unknowingly consumed a quarter of my daily calories in one small bar or cookie!
Just to run this home a little more for people, for example the traditional burger bun at Grill’d has a total of 215 calories and the ‘low carb super bun’ has a total of 275 calories. So yes it’s super full of calories, not necessarily the better option for you if you are trying to manage your energy intake.
Mind blown yet? I was. So how the hell are we meant to navigate through life and make healthier choices when so many things are misleading? The best thing I did was starting to educate myself about nutrition and a lot of that came from the amazing knowledgeable trainers and coach at my gym. Having gained the knowledge, I have continued to work on what works best for me as well as being able to make healthier choices on the fly if I need to – because you know, life.
I am going to share with you how I prepare myself for the week and how I ensure I stick to my healthy eating plan. Keep in mind this routine I have worked out over months of trial and error and what works best for ME while maintaining my lifestyle and commitments. Everyone is going to be different but this is how I get by and get the results I have gotten so far without killing myself or spending hours and hours in the kitchen. There is no magic secret or anything special that I am doing – what you will see is I have made it as simple and easy as I possibly can for myself which is why I have been able to successfully manage my food intake for the past 34 weeks without going bat shit crazy or binge eating!
Sunday – Prepping and Planning!
It doesn’t take me very long now to decide what I want to eat for the week. At the start it took a lot of brain power but over time and by trial and error you start to develop a good sense of foods you like and that work for you and you daily routine. I pull together my daily meal plans and take into consideration any events or planned dinners we have out with friends. I put those in first and then work my other food in around that – I use calorieking.com to create my meal plans and to keep track of my total daily food intake.
Once I have the plan I then prep the food. I only ever need to prep my lunches for Monday to Friday as the snacks I have do not require much effort to prep and are not complicated meals. My prep takes me around half an hour. I also cook up a 2kg bag of white potatoes in a steamer and keep these pre-cooked in the fridge for the entire week. They keep perfectly fine and I can then just portion out the potato I need for breakfast and dinners – this also greatly cuts down food prep time. When I was incorporating rice in my diet I would do the same with the rice and leave it bulk cooked in the fridge.
Monday to Friday
Ok – So the week has started and I already know exactly what I need to be eating for the week. I eat exactly the same thing Monday to Friday. So each day I am eating the same breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinners. Yes even my dinners are the same. This cuts down complicated prep time and reduces the amount that I need to think and also removes potential room for error when I’m heavily tracking my food. So one week I will have steak every night for dinner, the next will be chicken and then fish.
I get up early enough to make breakfast then cart all my lunches and snack foods to work on the Monday. That way everything I need for the week during work is there and I don’t run the risk of forgetting anything and being left without food (that’s when bad impulse decisions are made.)
Keeping my breakfast, lunch and dinner essentially the same, gives me room to move with my snacks. I also can make minor tweaks here and there to adjust each of the meals as I feel like it. Some mornings I have curried eggs for breakfast, sometimes it’s an omelette, sometimes I add ham or even make a breakfast burger. It just means I make small adjustments to other meals in my day – and that’s the beauty of flexible dieting. If I want something I can have it. Some weeks I have had homemade pizza every night and others I have had burgers every night.
I recall one particular week that I actually realised I had eaten 10 burgers in 7 days….. a mix of homemade and Grill’d and guess what I still lost weight that week because – SCIENCE!
I keep the snacks throughout the week relatively simple and that is because they taste good, they are filling, they hit my sweet tooth when I want it in the afternoon and they require minimal to no prep. Rice cakes, bananas, strawberries, oats, peanut butter, honey. That’s what I am currently eating as that is what I feel like. Every now and then I get bored or crave something else so I change it.
Friday nights however are always reserved for eating out at either Grill’d or Nandos or anything else I really feel like – but I can never pass up an epic burger and chips from Grill’d
The weekends I generally keep unplanned or half planned – I will maybe plan out a couple of meals that I know I will be having at home or eating out. But I usually make sure I incorporate bacon and eggs or something different to my normal Monday and Friday meals. However I do tend to keep my snacks the same as they are easy to take on the go if I am out all day. If I am meeting up with friends or going to the beach I can easily prep my snacks and take with me. That way my food is always on hand and I am not tempted or get caught out being hungry and impulse buying something because I got desperate.
My key takeaways for you
So out of all that and what I have learned over the past year, here are my top tips to help you stay on track and avoid those food binges:
- Make small changes each week. Some people find it hard to take the ‘big bang’ approach … and if you try to change everything at once it won’t feel like your normal routine, it will feel hard and unpleasant. Tackle one meal at a time and get that down pat in your routine then work on the next. Eventually you will have overhauled your whole daily routine. It’s about trying to create GOOD habits not bad habits (like getting a cake or chocolate bar every afternoon – guilty!)
- Listen to your body. Plan your food around when you need the energy most. Start making mental or written notes of when you are getting hungry throughout the day then start being prepared for that when you plan your food out. That way when your hunger strikes you will have your food on hand.
- Get educated, make smarter choices. I have a work colleague that has lost 17kg over the span of 6 months just by swapping his food for slightly lower calorie choices. All he did was compare what he normally eats to other options available and then repeated that every day. Start to understand what is actually in your food so you can make more informed decisions.
- Keep it simple stupid. You really don’t need to over complicate it. You don’t need to do mass amounts of meal prepping if you don’t want to. Look at foods and options that fit your lifestyle and work commitments and create something that feels easy not something that you dread having to do.
- Always know when your next meal is. This comes back to planning; I always have found that it is easier to avoid making bad impulse decisions or binge eating when I know exactly when and what I am going to eat next. It puts my mind and stomach at ease.
- Don’t deprive yourself. Incorporate foods you love and you will be more inclined to stick to your plan and actually look forward to your meals.
- Just start. Start now, start with one meal, one day, one week. You don’t have to be perfect and it’s OK to get it wrong. I am still learning, still tweaking and I am like everyone else and get caught out not being prepared sometimes – it happens and that is OK. I promise over time it gets easier, you get smarter, you get more efficient and eventually you don’t even need to think about it – because it became your lifestyle.